Trinken Brewing in West Bath specializes in German-style beers. Photo by Catie Joyce-Bulay

With the turning of leaves and turning back of clocks, it’s officially no longer the season for sipping light beers on the porch. As the days grow shorter, our beers tend to grow darker, tipping the color wheel into caramelly ambers and browns – something a little more robust to hang onto as we brace for colder weather ahead.

Fall is a wonderful time to embrace German beer. What I love about German-style brews is their simplicity, which is derived from the Reinheitsgebot, the 1500s-era beer purity law that decreed hops, barley, water and yeast as the only acceptable beer ingredients, and something most German breweries still abide by today. These confines led to one of the world’s greatest beer traditions, creating a genre of crisp, clean brews that put the spotlight on malt.

Oktoberfest is the quintessential German fall beer, but may be hard to find this late into the season. If you can get a hold of it, Bangor Beer Co. Therese is a perfect example of the celebration brew. Its German pilsner and Munich malts lend the festbier a bready quality with just the right amount of caramel, while the hops take a back seat.

For a deep dive into German beer, do yourself a favor and take a field trip to West Bath’s Trinken Brewing Co. Although you will find an IPA or two on the menu, brewer Ryan Bisson’s passion for the Reinheitsgebot has led to a stellar German beer lineup. This time of year, try a darker style, either Von Wolfhausen Dunkel or Ritter vs. Brauer Dunkelweizen. The bready comfort of the toasted malts paired almost paradoxically with the crisp lightness of a lager (or hefeweizen, in the case of the dunkelweizen) mirrors this transitional season.

Then there’s Brewer’s Blank Canvas Brewery, which isn’t afraid of a cross-cultural mash-up. Brewer Stephen Genthner’s motto is, as long as it’s delicious, it belongs. His Sweet Potato Dunkel may be blasphemy to the purist, but its blend of both American and German flavors is a real fall treat, if not a surprise. The post-fermentation addition of roasted sweet potatoes adds a bit of sweet earthiness and plays up the clove and caramel notes of the dunkelweizen’s malt bill.

As for straight-up American style beers, pumpkin, of course, is king of fall, but this year maple is making a good showing. Rising Tide Brewing Co. Nature’s Gold is a great example. This golden ale is brewed with both maple syrup from Balsam Ridge Farm in Raymond and fenugreek, a Mediterranean spice that mimics maple syrup. Added lactose solidifies this beer’s sweetness and adds a bit of body. If you want to go all-in, pair it with breakfast-for-dinner, but roasted squash or root vegetables are also good choices.

Bunker Brewing Co. added not only maple syrup to its Fall Colourz kettle sour but Maine ginger, apple cider and cardamom (a cinnamon-like spice whose floral notes balance a bit of that sweetness), which together bring all the warm and fuzzies of the season. With a dry champagne finish, it’s a wise move to offer to any wine-preferring pals and nice for those who like to stick with light beer all year.

And finally, if you’re just ready to let the cold season claim you, hunker down and get cozy (think The Dude’s Pendleton sweater) with Baxter Brewing Co. Innuendo. Inspired by The Big Lebowski’s drink of choice, don’t let this White Russian stout’s light color fool you. Brewed with cacao, lactose and cold-brewed coffee, it is everything rich and decadent you want in your first night curled up by the wood stove as the wind howls outside.

Catie Joyce-Bulay is a Winslow-based freelance writer who recently moved back to her home state. Find her writing on beer, travel and people pursuing their passion at or Twitter: @catiejoycebulay.

Baxter Brewing’s White Russian stout, Innuendo, is made with cacao, lactose and cold-brewed coffee. Photo courtesy of Baxter Brewing

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